Sustainable fashion is THE hot trend right now in the world of fashion and it’s encouraging to see so many companies taking the initiative to improve their business model and design methods. One company that is leading the way is Carrot Banana Peach, who we first talked about in our roundup of six sustainable fashion brands you need to know of today.
The brand has been home to sustainable fashion, eco-friendly, natural active-wear since 1999. Through innovation and advanced technology, we extract the natural fibres of plants and provide you with uniquely comfortable alternatives to synthetic activewear in bamboo, soybean, aloe vera, organic cotton, and banana. The Cheshire based store was opened in 2017 to give customers the chance to physically feel the plant-based products and to learn how they perform during yoga, fitness or travel. The also takes its focus off the hanger and onto the mat, offering weekly yoga classes run by local teachers who are advocates for the environment and sustainable alternatives.
Tell us a bit about the ethos behind Carrot Banana Peach, Nigel Gartisde (Founder and Creative Director)
At Carrot Banana Peach, we truly believe that we are helping to change the way people think about their lives and that of our planet, by considering what they do, wear and consume. Our vision has been the same since 1999, to develop the most advanced technical products from eco-friendly, natural and sustainable resources. To provide functional products that support a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.
The core values of Carrot Banana Peach implement sustainability, environment and innovation. We have learnt that to be sustainable, you need to have a broad base of raw materials to produce from, to put pressure on one resource can have a devastating effect on the environment.
By constantly looking at nature and developing fibres from a broad plant base, then the environment and all creatures that depend on it are unharmed and we can thrive. Whilst bamboo remains our core business since 2004, we have seen our soybean and Aloe Vera production increase and release some pressure on the bamboo supply chain.
What inspired you to start Carrot Banana Peach?
While I worked at Nike, the production and mission were to deliver high-performance fabrics made from polyester and synthetics under a program called Alpha that delivered Dri-Fit etc. But my research showed an increasing number of people that valued comfort over most of the performance benefits polyester offered. It struck me that if I could combine the two, I’d have a winning formula and a niche market in natural activewear.
My mission was to find the most innovative, natural and eco-friendly fabrics and combine them with my extensive experience as a product creator at Nike to create a truly unique brand that delivers on performance and comfort as well as being mindful of the environment.
Now, of course, companies are moving back into that sphere, paying more attention to eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives, but we have always been driven by that.
What skills did you come to the business with already, and how has this helped growing it?
I started out as a product creator and fashion designer at Nike, after having studied fashion at University. I also come from a family of textile workers that dates back almost 200 years, so that was naturally the direction I was going to go in. I originally teamed up with other members of my family and friends to combine product and design with textile expertise. Carrot Banana Peach is now a world recognized brand that has consistently been producing high-quality plant-based yoga and fitness clothing for over 20 years.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own activewear business?
The most challenging thing initially was getting people to buy into organic/sustainable/plant-based yoga and activewear. When the company first started in the 1990s, people weren’t as aware of sustainable/eco-friendly options in products like running and active wear. Growing the brand awareness and making products that performed equally, if not better, to the synthetic alternatives.
How has your sustainable pledge affected the way you developed your products?
The vision behind Carrot Banana Peach to truly help change the world and how people perceive it and interact with it has been a driving force behind how the business was founded and developed. The entire business is based on a sustainable model – making fabrics that deliver on performance while being kind to the environment, using recycled packaging, biodegradable bags and soy ink. It has always been the main value, mission and promise of the company.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?
How big the yoga industry/business was going to become.
What is the most worthwhile investment (time, energy, money) that you have made?
The most worthwhile investment for me and Carrot Banana Peach has been the development of our plant-based fabrics. Using advanced technology to create eco-friendly, natural and sustainable resources.
What one failure are you glad you experienced?
We tried to launch a store back in 2001, but the people weren’t ready for it. This failure made us reflect on how we could make our products better and helped us to realign our focus back to producing the highest quality products, rather than spending our time and energy designing stores. Although the brand has been around for 20 years, we only just opened a concept shop in 2017, which reflected the real demand for sustainable, eco-products that has become bigger and bigger in the last few years. Spending more time perfecting our fabrics and mission have only strengthened our presence in the current market.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting to be more mindful about the products they purchase and the impact they have on the environment?
Think about the longevity of the garment, its content and its effect on your skin and body. Where and how has it been produced and how that reflects the durability and functionality of the product.